Independence for Papua still hotly debated

Independence for Papua still hotly debated

 27 May 2010

Papuan independence from the Republic of Indonesia remains a hot topic among Papuans, with many still struggling for a separate state, a discussion heard Tuesday.

The issue emerged again during a discussion in Merauke on a book entitled Integrasi Telah Selesai (Integration Is Done) published by the Nusantara Study Center and edited by Agus E. Santoso and Yosep Rizal.

Those who advocate separation, the discussion heard, do not acknowledge the 1969 Pepera (Act of Free Choice) poll, which resulted in Papua being included in the Republic of Indonesia.

Such separatists allege the petition procedure was riddled with violations and claim it was not conducted according to the New York Agreement’s one man one vote, but used a representative system in which Papuans were only represented by 1,025 people.

“Independence has been deeply rooted in the hearts and minds of Papuans. Papua is still running forward, heading toward independence,” said the chairman of LMA Malind Anim Albert Moiwend.

Those in support of NKRI, on the other hand, say that Papua is an integral part of Indonesia as stipulated in a United Nations (UN) decree issued on November 1969 following the 1969 petition, and believe the issue is closed.

Nicolash Messet, who has been in self exile for 34 years in his struggle for Papuan independence, said he had decided to return to Indonesia after learning the chances for Papua to be granted independence were slim.

The international community, he said, is now focused more on issues of global warming, deforestation and not the establishment of a new nation.

“It will be very difficult, even impossible, for the UN to discuss the matter of Papuan independence.

Even if it is finally reopened, the process will be very complicated,” said Nicolash, who was also the main speaker at the discussion.